The Senate GOP power coup? Tim Eyman made them do it

The secret story behind the state senate power-sharing coup – according to Eyman.

By Eric Scigliano

December 11, 2012.

Now it can be told: The reason two fiscally conservative Democratic senators crossed over to strike a power-sharing, committee-splitting accord with minority Republicans was … Initiative 1185, the latest anti-tax ballot measure from Tim “Please, Strike Down my Initiative So I Can Get Paid to Pass a New One” Eyman. At least, that’s what Tim Eyman says.

Yesterday Eyman and his I-1185 co-sponsors Jack and Mike Fagan declared in a press release that

Today's power-sharing announcement in the state senate happened because of the voters' overwhelming passage of I-1185 and the 2 tax advisory votes. The ripple effects from those public votes played a key role in today's important development in how the next legislature will move forward.

And here we thought it might have something to do with deep differences over state taxes and budgeting, the character of the districts represented by breakaway Dems (or DINOs — Democrats in Name Only, in the view of some colleagues) Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, Sheldon’s longtime role as a caucus gadly and crossover vote, his fellow Dems’ banishing him from all but one committee last session, or the power seats he and Tom will now occupy as, respectively, president pro tempore and majority leader.

No word yet from Tom or Sheldon as to whether I-1185 did indeed prompt them to bust up the Democratic majority, but we’ll pass it on if we get it. Together with updates on how Eyman’s measures caused the anti-government protests in Egypt, the collapse of Italy’s provisional government and future earthquakes in Chile and Sumatra.

Eric Scigliano's reporting on social and environmental issues for The Weekly (later Seattle Weekly) won Livingston, Kennedy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other honors. He has also written for Harper's, New Scientist, and many other publications. One of his books, Michelangelo's Mountain, was a finalist for the Washington Book Award. His other books include Puget Sound; Love, War, and Circuses (aka Seeing the Elephant); and, with Curtis E. Ebbesmeyer, Flotsametrics. Scigliano also works as a science writer at Washington Sea Grant, a marine science and environmental program based at the University of Washington. He can be reached at

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Printed on January 30, 2015